hradzka: (plane)
I'm going to talk about the Newtown, Connecticut murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in two posts. This is the first one. In this one, I'll talk about the murders themselves, from a tactical viewpoint. Another time, I'll talk about the things people are proposing we do about them. For now, though, the important thing is to talk about tactics. I write about mass shootings from a tactical standpoint, because that's a crucial operational level for those who, God forbid, find themselves at the scene of a murderous attack.

In the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary, there are two sets of tactics to consider: the attacker's, and the defenders'. I'm going to spend much more time on the latter than on the former. )
hradzka: (solace)
At the midnight premiere of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES in Aurora, Colorado, a theater patron exited the theater through the emergency door and went to his car, where he equipped himself in tactical gear that included a gas mask, helmet, and reportedly body armor. (I have not seen detailed citations on the body armor, though, and would really appreciate a link to manufacturer and level if anyone has one, as well as a transcript of the original source for this particular report. I have seen the receipt for the perp's tac-vest, which cost a hundred and six bucks, wasn't bulletproof, and is of the sort used for carrying mags. I've also seen a picture of what could be a ballistic vest lying on the ground in an AP photograph; if anything, it's probably a IIA, which is the lowest form of body armor, so that might explain why the perp surrendered when cops showed up with rifles -- even a pistol with sufficient velocity would defeat IIA body armor, and the blunt force trauma from being shot by something that couldn't penetrate would be pretty painful. Again, though, I've seen no print confirmation of this anywhere, and it's also possible the perp surrendered just out of curiosity, or in a lucid moment.) The perpetrator launched two gas bombs and then opened fire with a Colt AR-15 that had a 100-round drum mag attached. When the rifle (or, more likely, the drum mag) jammed, he went to other weapons: a .40 Glock and a shotgun. The perpetrator murdered twelve people and wounded fifty-eight.

Read more... )
hradzka: (plane)
Anders Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist who killed 77 people in 2011, has gone on trial. The information that'll come out as the case is presented will be interesting, but at the moment I'm mildly horrified at the ineptitude of the press covering the event. Breivik is a lot of things, but opaque is not one of them; he believes in the virtues of clear communication, particularly as he's seeking to win people to his cause, and he plans his actions very carefully in order to help communicate his messages. Breivik is not a guy who wants to create mysteries and have them figured out. He is, as he described his occupation at the start of trial, a writer, and he follows a writer's maxim: tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em, tell 'em, tell 'em what you told 'em.

For reporters covering him, this is useful. Or it would be, if they bothered to use it.

Read more... )
hradzka: (plane)
I tend to be very cautious in following the news stories of major shootings, because you have to watch out for 1) information changing and 2) narratives getting locked. The shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman is heading into the narrative lock stage. It's not just our conjectures that crystallize, but the *stories* we believe the event is telling. And Martin's death involves dueling narratives, not just about the meaning of his death, but about the legal circumstances. But the meaning and the circumstances have very little to do with each other at this point, because Trayvon Martin isn't just Trayvon Martin anymore. People aren't just pissed off about his death, they're pissed off over a *lot* of deaths, and about stuff that doesn't just involve death, but being hassled due to walking while black. For the folks who have these stories it's a major point of identification.

The legal issues at hand are 1) the actual shooting and 2) the performance of the police department. This is where the narrative can get thorny. Both legal issues have the same political narrative: Zimmermann is racist. The police department is racist. This conflates the two problems into one, which is compelling, but mechanically and from the POV of our institutions -- and for me, as a civilian with a carry permit -- these are two distinct problems. The Sanford PD has handled the case appallingly, but at the moment the state of Florida and the city of Sanford seem to be responding to the political pressure in appropriate ways, with the appointment of a special prosecutor and a vote of no confidence in the police chief. It is important that the politicos recognize the seriousness of this situation; at the same time, just because the public *thinks* Zimmerman guilty does not automatically mean that he *is,* and not only due to Florida's "stand your ground" law. There was a hell of a compelling narrative in the Duke lacrosse case, after all, and that didn't exactly turn out as everybody thought.

That said, looking at the evidence available, my most charitable assessment of Zimmerman (which is difficult to make) is that he is almost certainly criminally liable. (I will explain the "almost certainly" shortly.) It's surprising he wasn't arrested that night, though the initial police report makes it clear he was cuffed and the case was investigated as potential manslaughter. It's also worth noting that the most damning facts (Martin had left home on a brief errand to get some snacks) didn't come out till later, though they bloody well should have come out that night, because *Martin had his cell phone on him* and the cops still took three inexcusable days to notify his family. To me, that is item number one on the police malfeasance list.

Read more... )
hradzka: (plane)
As I read his manifesto, I realized Anders Breivik was reminding me of Malcolm X.

Not on any moral or tactical level, of course; black Muslim violence, Malcolm's assassination included, was largely internal or schismatic (though according to multiple sources, Malcolm had to be talked out of putting together a hit squad to kill Los Angeles police officers in response to their raid of an Nation of Islam mosque in which the cops shot seven people, one of whom was paralyzed and one of whom was killed). No, what Breivik was reminding me of was Malcolm X during his transition away from the NOI and into his own organization Muslim Mosque Incorporated, away from Elijah Muhammed and into Sunni Islam, away from separatism and into the civil rights movement he'd often belittled. It's a transition marvelously covered (as is all of Malcolm's life) in the late Manning Marable's magnum opus MALCOLM X: A LIFE OF REINVENTION. Terrific book, BTW, really fascinating. That time in Malcolm's life sees him adrift, issuing contradictory statements from one day to the next, and my inclination was to see it as Malcolm not knowing what the hell he was doing. Marable, who admired Malcolm more than I do (and obviously knew him a hell of a lot better), had a different take: Malcolm, he argued, was evolving. Evolving a lot. Evolving wildly, desperately, he didn't know what he was changing into, but he was changing into *something,* and as a result of feeling this out he necessarily came off as politically incoherent.

I don't know if I buy that with regard to Malcolm, but the idea stuck, and reading Breivik's manifesto, I felt almost a sense of deja vu. Here's my take on Anders Breivik. )

On Norway

Jul. 25th, 2011 01:11 am
hradzka: (plane)
The news investigation of the mass murders in Norway, is, as you'd expect, being handled by Norwegian media, which means they're getting the good info and all I can find is the stuff the English-language media deigns to pass on and what I can pry out of Google Translate. So I can't provide a detailed timeline here. I also haven't seen any information on the exact weaponry used. (The author of what's plausibly alleged to be Breivik's manifesto states he legally owned a pump-action shotgun, a bolt-action rifle in .308 Winchester, and a semi-auto Ruger Mini-14.) I'm not familiar with Norwegian gun laws, and I really don't know anything about right-wing politics in Norway. Until there's more information I can't reliably tell how far out the places Breivik was posting, and the people he was hanging out with, actually were. All I can go by is what are purported to be his own writings. More about that in a bit.

Read more... )
hradzka: "Trust me, I know what I'm doing." (sledge hammer!)
It's time for a gratuitous gun pic! Say hello to my newest acquisition, the Chiappas Rhino.

Read more... )
hradzka: (plane)
I am, as I've mentioned a few times, a righty, and while my business travel keeps me from going to the range anywhere near as often as I'd like to, I'm also a gun nut. I also study mass shootings, because I think it's important to be tactically aware of them. All of which means that I'm paying a lot of attention to the Arizona mass shooting committed by 22-year-old Jared Loughner. I should say "allegedly" as he's not dead and hasn't been found guilty yet, but he was apprehended at the scene with the gun in his hand, so fuck that.

Read more... )
hradzka: (roy harper)
Been a while since my last new gun report. (Mostly because I don't get off my ass and take Gratuitous Gun Pictures.) But I have a new gun, and it's worth talking about!

It's a Walther P-22. )
hradzka: (303 british)
Saw an interesting news story on a police gunfight. Interesting and unusual, not only because it's an NYT article that praises the heroism of the police officer involved in a shootout -- this rarely happens -- but because it does so for the wrong reasons.

Background: NYPD Officer Ferris Jones, a 20-year veteran who collects evidence for the crime lab, was getting her hair done when a 19-year-old man, Winston Cox, entered the salon with a large revolver and demanded money. Once the women in the salon had placed their belongings into his bag, he ordered them into a bathroom in the back and began to ransack the place for more valuables. Jones took their confinement as potentially a very bad sign, and gave her cell phone to the shop owner with an instruction to call 911. Jones then exited the bathroom and identified herself as a police officer, whereupon Winston Cox opened fire on her. Jones returned fire with her off-duty carry piece, which the NYT identifies only as a five-shot revolver, no make or caliber listed (so I'm guessing a Smith & Wesson J-frame). She emptied her gun. This is where the story gets interesting. )
hradzka: (roy harper)
Lots of great traditions fall by the wayside over the years. One such was the Schuetzen match. They're around today -- there are shooting matches for *everything* today -- but the Schuetzen had an unfortunate decline in America at the height of anti-German sentiment during WWI, and they've never really recovered. As you'd gather from the name, they're Germanic in origin, and were hella popular in Germany and Switzerland. Schuetzen matches are also very, very old. As in, before they were done with guns, they were done with *crossbows.* Way old school. They were done as grand days out -- people wore awesome clothes, went shooting, and (because they're Germans) drank beer. Then came the double-whammy of dislike for Germans and Prohibition. Ow. But the matches themselves are cool. They're shot at 200 meters or thereabouts (I've seen references to 200 yards for old American matches), offhand, using single-shot rifles. Very suitable for a steampunk shooting match, if anyone were so inclined.

Anyway, a while back I saw an absolutely beautiful engraved Schuetzen rifle at a gun show. There were no pics allowed in the show, but I got some off the dealer's web site. They were selling it for nine grand. It looked worth it. I love the detail of the woman with a gun.

A couple of detail shots and a link to the Flickr set are below. )
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
Hot dang, my friend Vince is famous! He got mentioned in Massad Ayoob's latest column for BACKWOODS HOME magazine. It's obvious that people with small hands and limited hand strength will have trouble operating larger or harder-recoiling guns -- small-framed women who are new to shooting really have this problem -- but you don't think as much about the problem in the opposite direction. Some people are just so big that they can't operate smaller guns safely, or effectively, or sometimes at all. What works great for a small person could be nonfunctional or downright dangerous for somebody who's ginormous.

(That would be Vince.)

As I've mentioned before, Vince is just a *huge* guy, and as Ayoob recounts, his hands are so big that there are guns he has trouble operating. I knew this on a certain level -- I'd never expect him to try picking up a Kel-Tec P3-AT -- but holy cow, I didn't think he'd run into trouble with a Glock 30! To put things in perspective, the Glock 30 is my *carry* gun. It's a subcompact, because I have a skinny frame and can't effectively conceal a large pistol, but it's straight-up .45 ACP, a solid gun with a fat Glock-sized grip (the GF, who has tiny hands, can't even reach the trigger on it). But as Ayoob reports, Vince's hands are so massive that they interfered with the gun's operation (sometimes painfully). Man, that's amazing. Something to file away if I ever train somebody Vince's size. If I ever *encounter another human being* Vince's size.

(Vince's carry gun is a full-size 1911. The guy's a freakin' mountain; he could carry a brace of them, and nobody would ever notice.)
hradzka: (plane)
The Associated Press interviewed associate biology professor Joseph Ng, and ABC News interviewed professor Debra Moriarity, both eyewitnesses (and, in Moriarity's case, the Big Damn Hero) to their colleague Amy Bishop's mass shooting at a University of Alabama Huntsville faculty meeting. Being a woman, Bishop is an atypical mass shooter, but her job worries and track record of instability aren't uncommon in such cases. The fact that she shot and killed her own brother in 1986, in what's looking increasingly like a deliberate crime that was covered up by her mother (in local politics) and the then chief of police (who personally interrupted her booking), is pretty alarming; I remember reading an article (which of course I can't find now) by one guy who had considered committing a workplace shooting in the distant past, decided against it, and went on to lead a productive life, but Bishop apparently started an ineffectual mass shooting, got an absolutely incredible second chance, and went on to commit multiple murders years later.

Ng describes an unusual scenario. A lot of mass shooters start out psyching themselves up -- they start outside their kill zone and come into it, and then start killing. Bishop did something less common; she went to the meeting as normal, but half an hour or so into it she produced a 9 mm pistol (make and model unknown) and began shooting. There were reportedly eleven (NEW YORK POST) or twelve (ABC NEWS) people, besides Bishop, in the room. She shot six of them at very close range, and went for headshots. Three died. Two were, at last report, in critical condition. One has been released from the hospital.

The other five people who were in the room dove to the floor, using the table as concealment. (Remember the difference between cover and concealment? Cover stops a bullet. Concealment doesn't.) Professor Debra Moriarity, reportedly Bishop's closest friend on campus, tried to crawl out of the room but was stopped by Bishop, who pointed the gun at Moriarity and pulled the trigger. The gun didn't fire. Moriarity recalls that Bishop pulled the trigger again, with the same result, which suggests a double-action or DA/SA semi-auto (a single-action, like a 1911, or striker-fired semi-auto, like a Glock, would have gone click once and required cocking or racking of the slide before the trigger could be pulled again). According to Ng, at this point Moriarity led the faculty in a rush that pushed the still-armed Bishop out the door. They then barricaded the door so Bishop couldn't get back in, and called for help. The barricade had been employed with varying degrees of success at VA Tech, and may have been especially effective here because Bishop's targets were people she knew -- with them out of reach, she had little desire to shoot anyone else, so dropped the gun in a bathroom and called her husband for a ride home.

Note what happened here: classic OODA Loop stuff. The faculty was not prepared for an armed assault, so had difficulty orienting themselves and deciding what to do -- but Bishop wasn't prepared for her gun to run dry, and apparently hadn't practiced clearing a malfunction, so she was thrown out of her own OODA Loop, which gave Moriarity and the faculty and opportunity to move against her.
hradzka: (roy harper)
I have a lot of friends who shoot IDPA. That's "International Defensive Pistol Association," which is basically LARPing for tactical shooters. Instead of just setting up a target and shooting at it, you get an array of targets set up in such a manner as to present you with a tactical problem. Each such problem is called a stage. In a given stage, you have to engage (read: shoot) each of the targets. This involves complex activity, such as 1) identifying targets 2) distinguishing hostiles from friendlies 3) running from one part of the stage to another and 4) reloading. As you might imagine, it is a hell of a lot of fun, and people who shoot IDPA tend to tell their gunny friends who don't shoot IDPA that they really ought to.

Case in point: my friend Vince, who has been nagging me to try IDPA for ages, and so I finally said YES FINE OKAY.

So this past weekend I did my first IDPA shoot, and discovered not only that it is a lot of fun, but if you twitter about running around shooting multiple threats your friends will tweet back asking you what the hell you are getting up to.

Read more... )
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
If you're a gun nut, this is the funniest DOWNFALL vid ever. The humor is not especially translatable, which I think makes for the best DOWNFALL vids -- Hitler's ranting is funnier and funnier the more important the subject isn't, which means he's absolutely perfect for representing entitled fandom.

Video embedded below cut. )
hradzka: (plane)
I've been going over the Fort Hood shooting news, as I usually do on stories like this. As in most cases, it won't be perfectly clear for a while exactly what happened from a tactical standpoint, but the heroes of the hour are Sgt. Kimberley Munley, 34, and Sgt. Mark Todd, 42, both of Fort Hood's Department of Emergency Services; Todd, who retired from the Army to become a cop, apparently does a lot of K-9 stuff. It's been reported several times that they're partners, but I don't know if that's right or if they just teamed up in the firefight. Munley is laid up with gunshot wounds, and she hasn't given her full account publicly yet; what we know of her experience comes second-hand, through her supervisor. Todd has spoken briefly about the gunfight, which by his reckoning lasted maybe 30 to 45 seconds (given the time dilation effect often experienced in gunfights, my guess is it was a hell of a lot less than that).

I don't know if they arrived separately or together. )
hradzka: (plane)
The story of Nidal Hasan is really weird. The facts have been rewritten multiple times, to the point that the guy's first and middle names were initially swapped and other stuff has changed constantly (for example: were there other shooters? we initially heard three; it's still fuzzy). There are, at the moment, multiple possible motives. Hasan's a psychiatrist, so he's highly educated; he's also very religious (he prosyletized to the point that people at work told him to knock it off), which are a couple of red flashing lights because, contra reports that poverty and desperation breed terrorists, intelligent and middle-class-and-up folks are the sort that terrorist organizations love, because they are steady and reliable.

Except here's the other thing: religious fanatic terrorists who go undercover often practice disinformation -- they don't talk about religion, they drink alcohol, they shave their beards, etc. -- so people don't know an attack is coming. Hasan could barely contain himself. He posted in favor of suicide bombers online, apparently; he told lots of people he was frantic to avoid deployment to Afghanistan or Iraq. And to cap it all off, he had trouble with women. According to the Washington Post, he'd participated in a Muslim matchmaking service at his mosque, but came up a blank because he had "too many conditions." He refused to be photographed with women, which was awkward when the workplace did group photos.

Current news is that it was when Hasan was taken down, it was a woman who shot him. Four times.

I cannot talk about the incident tactically, because reports are *still* all over the place. My best guess at this point is that Hasan is ideologically motivated and went over the tipping point due to emotional imbalance. Local news reporters are saying he was giving furniture and possessions to neighbors, which is a *classic* suicide thing to do, but you don't see it often in guys who are taking orders from higher-ups. So despite similarities to some busted-up terrorist plans, it's looking for now more like Hasan was a terrorist on his own nickel.

Still wondering about the reported other guy/guys, though.
hradzka: "Trust me, I know what I'm doing." (sledge hammer!)
Dig this: there is a little town called Hardin, Montana. Hardin has a prison that has never been used, despite costing $27 million of your money, because Hardin, Montana. (The town doesn't even have a police force; they get the county sheriffs to do their law enforcing, and it sounds like the kind of place that's small enough that the cops and offenders are all on a first-name basis, so the Man knows who needs to get sent up the river and who just needs a gentle Friday night ass-kicking.) Because they don't use the prison (see: Hardin, Montana), they decide to make a business arrangement with a security company. Cool, right?

Er, a security company that refuses to reveal who owns it, whose representatives arrived in three Mercedes SUVs marked with Hardin Police decals (remember, Hardin *has* no Police), whose logo that turns to be the Serbian coat of arms, that claims to have worked with the US Government which in turn claims to have never heard of them, whose head turns out to be a convicted felon.

Also, their web site says emphatically that "We are NOT a Mercenary Army," but helpfully adds, "We are capable of assembling a up to one special forces battallion [sic] within 72 hours."

Their proofreading ain't so hot.

The best news roundup I've seen on this is via a hard-ish right blog Ironic Surrealism. The Freepers did some pretty good digging on this one, give 'em credit, and the details they've found to supplement press coverage just gets weirder and weirder. For example, if you check out the company's address on Google Street View, apparently the signs are digitally blurred. Not many people with the clout to make that happen. My guess is that the company is a scam trying to get federal contracts; wonder who the dude's powerful friends are, or if he's just dropping tons o' cash from stolen sources. An alternative possibility: they list themselves as international weapons suppliers. For someone with no scruples, that's a potentially lucrative market, but the guy who owns that company can't legally own a gun...

...oh, HOLY SHIT. I just remembered something. but NO WAY. He CAN'T BE CRAZY ENOUGH to be betting on this. Even if it went and held, it'd only apply to stuff made and kept in Montana. No freakin' way.

Man, I hope the diners in Hardin, Montana are packed with friendly, smiling, pie-eatin' FBI agents right about now.

ETA: [personal profile] cheyinka points out on DW that the spokeswoman for this mess is now quitting and is in fear of her life. The article from the Billings Gazette cheyinka links explains why: absolute nut-job Alex Jones is whipping his crowd up on this. Good gravy. Now the only thing we need is an actual amateur superhero deciding to get into the act.
hradzka: (doc savage bust)
If you follow me on Twitter, you saw it happen in realtime, more or less. I just had my first defensive gun usage, sort of. I say sort of because I'm not sure it actually counts. I've been in a situation where having a gun was a *serious* comfort (a sketchy guy at a rest stop thought my car was empty and an easy score when I was actually inside it napping), but the status of my being armed did not come into play. This time it did. I was over at Ash's and we heard some weird noises outside. There was a guy roaming around the yard. He was pounding on our cars, trying to get into them. We called the cops, but then he left the yard and we lost sight of him. We thought he was gone. Then we saw him circling the house. Then he tried to get in the front door.

That was the point at which I yelled, "Back the fuck away from the house! We are armed!"

Thank God, he did. He stayed in the yard, though, briefly going over next door, and he took up a real liking to my car for some reason. He stayed leaning up against it for a while, occasionally pounding on it, and eventually the police arrived -- it took them about twenty minutes. We did not confront him, because 1) there was no imminent danger to us, and he had listened when we told him not to go in the house, and 2) I had no idea if he was drunk, on drugs, or severely mentally ill, but the odds on at least one being true were good, and while he had demonstrated enough self-preservation to get away from the house when we told him we were armed we had no idea how capable he was of understanding what was going on. That did not make him any less potentially dangerous, but it also meant that he might not be sufficiently cognizant to realize that he was in serious shit. Which would make it much less likely that he would be dissuaded by the sight of a firearm. Which could be very bad.

The first time we called the cops, we gave them a description, because he'd gone off and we figured he was just wandering the neighborhood. When he came back, we called again, and they stayed on the line with us until the units arrived. It turned out he was so intoxicated he didn't know what was going on or where he was, so it was less likely he would have posed a physical danger -- but guys who don't know what's going on can still be belligerent, so I'm really glad he didn't get in the house.

Anyway, that was my evening. How was yours?
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
I recently got a Twitter account (as hradzka, natch). My phone can't make Tweets, which is a shame because I went to a Virginia gun show today and discovered that I kept thinking of potential Tweets while walking around. It would be silly to dump them on Twitter all at once, so you get them here )

Without question, the most awesome item there: an old Schutzen rifle, *gloriously* engraved and carved, with amazing detail on the gun itself and on the stock. The right side of the gun featured an engraving of a woman aiming the rifle; the right side of the stock showed the same woman holding a cup of some sort. The guys who had it just got it, but they'll be putting pics up on their website. They thought the picture on the stock showed the woman holding a stein, but it didn't have a handle, so it would've been a goblet with a top. I think there's a good chance it was a shooting trophy, making it a woman's rifle. Be insanely cool if the woman depicted was the woman who'd originally commissioned the firearm...

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